Kaled el-Masri is a German citizen. On December 31, 2003 he was on vacation in Macedonia. When the bus he was traveling on reached the Serbia-Macedonia border, he was detained by Macedonia authorities and turned over to the CIA. They suspected him of being linked with terrorist organizations. Mr. el-Masri was held for 23 days before being beaten, drugged and flown on a plane leased by our government to Afghanistan where he was detained in the notorious "Salt Pit" prison.
The trouble is that by this time, the CIA knew that he was innocent. He was a victim of mistaken identity. Five months after being kidnapped, Mr. el-Masri led out of his cell, blindfolded, handcuffed, chained to the seat of a plane, flown to Albania and--without explanation--abandoned on a hillside at night.
President Bush first denied that the US engaged in rendition, kidnapping another term. He denied we used torture. When cases like Mr. el-Masri's came to light, his lie was exposed. He then successfully got the Republican Congress to pass the Military Commisions act to give him the right to continue the practice of denying basic human rights to anyone he believes to be guilty of terrorism. The law allows among other things to:
1. deny prisoners the right to habeas corpus so that a prisoner can be locked away without charge or without the right to an attorney.
2. use force to gain evidence against prisoners and convict them on the basis of statements made under coercion.
3. keep prisoners locked up indefinitely.
The claim is always made that 9-11 gives us the right to use means above the Constitution to defend ourselves, that we are dealing with very dangerous people. But as Sen. John McCain said in his debate against the use of torture, this is not about who they are, it's about who we are. If we resort to kidnapping, torture, forced confessions, indefinite imprisonment, denial to laws of law, then what have we become? How can we say that we have the moral right to defend freedom around the world, when we can't exercise it at home?
Congress must repeal the Military Commissions Act. Our national soul is at stake here. For how can we ask the brave men and women of our military to sacrifice themselves if America has become little better than the tyrannies we oppose. To paraphrase a famous statement of Abraham Lincoln I assert that as a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except those we declare to be enemy combatants." When if this is allowed to continued, we will say "all men are created equal, except Muslims and others we dislike." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty so that my tyranny can be take pure, and without hypocritical lip-service to the ideal of liberty and justice for all.